My One Huge Frustration with Rakuten (Ebates) & Why It Might Be A Deal Breaker!

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Rakuten Shopping Portal Issues

Rakuten Shopping Portal Issues

The Rakuten (formerly Ebates) portal and I go back a long way. I have been using it since my early days of internet shopping and have always found the company to be great to deal with. Even with the changeover to the new name I find the portal works the same and many times offers great promotions, including the ability to earn Membership Rewards points.

How to Maximize Online Cashback and Rewards Shopping Portals in 2020

My Recent Rakuten Shopping Portal Issues – Category Payouts

There is one area I keep running into issues though and that has made me consider not using them in certain scenarios. From time to time Rakuten will run variable cash back amounts for specific stores.

Here is an example of what Walmart cash back looks like as of the time of this writing:

  • Arts, Crafts, Cricut & Sewing 1.0%
  • Auto 1.0%
  • Baby 1.0%
  • Baby Activities & Gear 1.0%
  • Beauty 1.0%
  • Clothing, Shoes & Accessories 5.0%
  • Electronics 1.0%
  • Furniture, Bed, and Bath 1.0%
  • Home Improvement & Tools 1.0%
  • Jewelry & Watches 5.0%
  • Kitchen Appliances, Dining, and Vacuums 5.0%
  • Nursery & Decor 1.0%
  • Office & School 1.0%
  • Outdoor & Camping 1.0%
  • Personal Care 1.0%
  • Pet Supplies 1.0%
  • Photo Center 5.0%
  • Sports & Fitness 2.0%
  • Toys 1.0%

These category payouts change all of the time when Walmart and Rakuten want to promote specific sales, etc. For example, the other day Rakuten paid out 10% (10X Membership Rewards) on purchase in the ‘Toys’ category. So I bought some toys!

Rakuten Shopping Portal Issues – Category Tracking Doesn’t Work

Unfortunately it seems Rakuten often doesn’t track the product category correctly. I have had this happen enough times now that I want to call them out. Here is my purchase of toys from Walmart the other day when the toys category payout was 10%.

As you can see I was just paid the standard 1% instead of the 10% bonus I am due. This isn’t the first time this has happened either. It is frustrating since the purchase is tracking correctly, however Rakuten is forcing me to not only ensure everything is correct but then to contact them to fix it.

The Rakuten Missing Cashback Form

In order to get an issue like this resolved you must fill out the Missing Cashback form on Rakuten. The form has an automated system that looks through your clicks, etc. but eventually you can fill out everything and get it in front of a human being. Sometimes for smaller purchases they’ll just give you the cash back, however on larger ones they’ll ask for proof.

I have had to get my cashback amounts for category specific purchases fixed several times now and have always had to provide the order confirmation showing what I bought. With the order tracking this shouldn’t be necessary in my opinion, since Rakuten and Walmart should have a way to figure out which category you purchased in if they are going to offer category specific rates.

Rakuten Shopping Portal Issues
Can’t a man just buy some dolls and get 10% cashback like he expected! 😉

My Rakuten Portal Plan Going Forward

As I have mentioned before when talking about my shopping portal strategy, I tend to go to the portal that is paying the best. That means I will continue to use Rakuten when the payout is great, however I now am much more diligent about following up almost immediately on category specific purchases to make sure they earn correctly. In this scenario doing nothing would lose me 4,869 Membership Rewards points.

New to Rakuten? Sign-Up Now for a $10 bonus after making your first purchase through the portal. 

Rakuten Shopping Portal Issues – Bottom Line

I am a big fan of Rakuten and will continue to use them and recommend them. Truthfully you should always be paying extra close attention and auditing your portal payouts anyway, but with Rakuten and category specific payouts be extra careful. Their customer service is generally good and they generally fix the problem quickly, however there shouldn’t be a problem. Fix these Rakuten shopping portal issues please! 🙂

Shawn Coomer
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

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  1. Be careful about Avios. Vendor/Avois do not track properly or honor large purchase amounts and claim that you are using a different party.

  2. If you think Rakuten is bad…don’t use Topcashback! I used to love the ease of Fatwallet rebates; they almost always posted, and if they didn’t, a quick claim would get it posted. When FW shut down I switched to Topcashback for almost 3 years and I’m only about 60% on receiving promised rebates! The offered cash back was almost always higher than other sites, so I still probably came out even, but it was just such a pain. I’ve happily switched to Rakuten a few months ago and am at 100%, although I haven’t used specific category bonuses from retailers.

  3. Same here… Small payments are like clockwork. But, I made a Samsung Purchase of $823 when they supposedly were paying 10% back…Nothing. Lesson learned. They play games with higher returns. Wonder if they are opening themselves up for a class action lawsuit.
    Perhaps they have changed direction and philosophy under Japanese leadership.

    • I have the exact same issue with Rakuten and Samsung. The Rakuten tracking shows I made the purchase, I waited the obligatory time, and no cash back. Upon emailing them, and providing the receipt, still no cash back but I have to wait until they hear from Samsung. This is usually 10 business days. Well, 10 business days have passed, and again, no cash back. I am told it may take up to 45 days.

      Same issue with Priceline purchases and Marriott purchases. I am going to move back to the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal. I don’t have the time and energy to continually follow up with Rakuten, especially when their system shows I made the purchase.

  4. Cashback sites have tiered awards because those are the terms provided through the retailer and affiliate network. The cashback site has no ability to code categories or individual items. Your problem isn’t with the cashback sites, this isn’t a problem they can fix. They are beholden to their upstream partners to provide correct reporting.

    This is not a Rakuten/Ebates specific problem and your framing it as such is journalistically irresponsible.

    • Michael I am aware with how affiliate arrangements work. I certainly cannot say exactly what is causing this, but I can say I have purchased many times from Walmart with other portals and had the categories track correctly. I am also sharing my first hand experience here as someone who has done this A LOT for a long time. I stand by my assertions, since it is obvious there is a disconnect between what Walmart is reporting and how Rakuten credits my account. To say this is 100% on Walmart isn’t something you can do given the information. Either way, this is a warning to people about something that happened to me in the real world.

      • Look at the mishmash of item categories (and subcategories) from Walmart affiliate program –

        Every cashback site is just parroting the data provided and doing some aesthetic mapping. The cause of your problem is that there is no guarantee that products on the retailer-side are properly categorized, and thus you’re not (and neither is Rakuten) getting the correct commission.

        It’s especially messy Black Friday through Christmas, where new categories and products are added/removed depending on what’s on sale, specific products/categories can be completely excluded from commissions, etc.

        This is, unfortunately, not a problem that any publisher can solve. The problem exists between the affiliate network and the retailer. The publisher can only rely on the data reported back to them.

        • Shawn’s agreement for cash back is with Rakuten, not Walmart. It is therefore incumbent on Rakuten to fix the issue.

        • I am a Walmart affiliate and am an affiliate partner of dozens of other large retailers. I understand this. What you are saying could be the case, but it doesn’t explain why other portals seem to track Walmart categories correctly. It is also possible Rakuten isn’t processing the data correctly on their end when they receive it from Walmart. I am not going to debate this any more. It really isn’t the point. The point is to remind people to check their accounts to make sure they are getting what they want.

          I am not sure if you work for Rakuten or otherwise feel the need to defend them, but that really isn’t needed. I use them and have even partnered with them for promotions, etc. I think they are a good reliable company. I also think there are issues here and people need to be proactive about making sure they get the payouts they expected. That is ESPECIALLY true when the payout is for a large amount.

          Thanks for the comments Michael.

  5. I stopped using them for travel. Every purchase was a struggle to get my rebate. MrRebates works better for travel, but their issue is the 3 month waiting period before you can request a dispersement.

  6. I joined the site in 2006, and I can prove, using many hundreds of data points, that the more valuable the rebate is, the less likely you are to receive it.

    I get about 99% of the rebates that are under a dollar. However, a several hundred dollar rebate (furniture store with 20% back) took months of emails and phone calls. I had to get the furniture site I made the purchase from involved. They still owe me about hundreds of dollars from dozens of completed Priceline trips that have been “pending” for as far back as five years. I will never see that money, unless I want to dedicate hours a week to continuously following up.

  7. I’ve had issues during the past month getting Rakuten to pay out on Visa gift card purchases though I’ve also purchased eBay gift cards through and had no problems getting points back during that same period.

    • I’ve had the issues with category specific payouts before. It could be an issue on Walmart’s side, but they shouldn’t be offering category specific bonuses if they can’t properly track the amounts.

  8. Same issues. But of course this is going to happen because they don’t have all that money to give. And they’re counting on ones who don’t actually check things to be sure it’s correct.

    • The key is to be organized then it doesn’t take too much time. The vast majority of purchases track correctly across all portals and TBH the alternative is not earning those extra dollars/points.

  9. I’ve had the same issue since at least Black Friday. I haven’t had time to follow up with them yet though. What a PITA


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